I have a ton of interests but a lot of it is spurred in my passion for travel. Ever since I was a child growing up in Queens, NY, I longed to visit the glossy waterfalls, majestic mountains, and sparkling cities I used to see in the yearly calendars my parents would hang around the house. My view of the world was limited back then. We never had cable in the house until I went away to college in the late 90s, not to mention barely any access to the Internet (the painful dial up tones and slow connection speeds of AOL still haunt me). So as soon as I could, I took my first international trip at the age of 20, when I went to study abroad in Melbourne, Australia. I took all the money I earned from ages 13-20 (tutoring gigs and part-time admin office work) and bought my roundtrip ticket to the flip side of the world. Since then, I've been hooked on seeing as much as I can and doing as much as I can. I've grown so much in terms of what I thought I knew about life and the world.
Traveling has helped ignite my interest in culture in general, in the art of living life. The art of discovering and appreciating the quality and preparation of food. Traveling has helped carve my sense of perception in people and understanding of relationships. It's helped broaden my love of music and style and inspired me to re-evaluate my own awareness of health and physical capabilities. It's helped me appreciate the value of a dollar (I tend to equate everything in airplane tickets--a designer bag that costs $800?? That's a roundtrip ticket to Europe! Hence I don't really own any fancy designer bags.)
Since I graduated college, I made it my mission to do at least one international trip abroad a year. As time passed and my career progressed, I eventually was able to afford and take more than one trip--I'm happy to say I'm at that point in my life that I can take several trips a year (two long ones and a bunch of shorter ones around the holiday weekends). I know myself now more than I did 15 years ago and I know what I like/don't like/can put up with/don't want to put up with anymore when I travel.
I'm so particular now, I do research all my trips pretty extensively. Which sucks because it is exhausting!!!!!! I am already on the computer all day at work and so the last thing I want to do on my free time is be on the computer. But I've made the sacrifices because I hate wasting time during a vacation (ie standing around, not knowing where to go or what to do) and know that every time I do put in time and effort to research my trips, I thoroughly enjoy them and never regret that I missed out on seeing something or got 'ripped off' because I didn't know about certain situations to expect (ie knowing that sometimes taxis from the airport in some cities don't have meters).
I do miss spontaneous travel though. There was a period in my life where I was unemployed and so I took off to travel for four months and had a fantastic time. I sketched out a rough itinerary and filled in the blanks when I arrived in each city. It was liberating and one of the most memorable traveling experiences of my life. But now that I'm back to being a working professional, I can't afford the luxury of being spontaneous since I need to get back to NYC to corporate reality.
I've also traveled so much that I know what I find interesting vs. boring. I'll be honest--once you see something fantastic like the glaciers in Iceland, the turquoise lakes of South New Zealand, the desert of Western Australia, the powder beaches of Turks and Caicos, or the thunderous falls in Iguazu, Argentina you do get pickier of "amazing must see's." After a while, it's harder to be "wow'ed" and some things start to look the same or you end up comparing places to one another. In my 20s, I loved visiting every freaking church and museum in Europe and now I have very little interest since they all kind of seem the same to me! There are some exceptions of course but in general I do feel that the more I travel the more I need to be selective of where I go and what I do so I don't taint my perception of places.
I guess I am sharing this to explain why I write my trip experiences on this blog. This blog is for other people who can relate to me--those who also love to maximize their time when traveling but have limited time to plan things. And for people who are similar to me, who have traveled a lot, and really want to know if a place is worth visiting if they have similar tastes to me. Whenever I do trip research, I always type into Google if "Is xxx worth visiting?" and of course there are many different opinions of what you'll get back. For example, I remember when I was in Colombia, I was trying to find a great restaurant to eat at. Being from NYC, I have a ton of access to amazing food here. I came across a highly recommended restaurant with glowing reviews so I went to try it. And it was one of the worst meals I've had on a trip!! It was bland and to make it worst, expensive (ok, expensive for Colombia standards). When I went back to read the reviews, I realized the people who wrote them were from places that probably do not have access to NYC quality level food (most were from other nearby South American countries). I know this comes off as snobbish but I just realized more now at this point in my life than I did before that reviews and opinions are completely subjective and I wish I could find a travel resource that has similar tastes/expectations as me! I haven't come across one yet so I decided to share my travel experiences from a New Yorker point of view.
The biggest downside of traveling too much for me though is that I feel like I'm running out of places to go! Places that are an easy, quick trip from NYC at least. There are still some places I think I can manage a 3-5 day trip to, but I worry that at some point I will run out of short weekend getaway ideas. For long trips, the world is still my oyster but I can only manage to do two long trips (meaning a week or more) a year.
So far this is the list I've all the places I've been to, post my study abroad trip to Australia in 2000 (with a side trip to Malaysia, Singapore, and Los Angeles, CA before heading back home). There are a few places I've been to more than once and there are reasons for that! Each time was a very different experience but in general I try not to re-visit the same place twice (my heart will always have a place for Turks & Caicos though!). Always open to suggestions on what to add on my trip list! Croatia, South Africa, Patagonia, Ireland, Israel, Jordan and Norway are on my wish list but unfortunately I'm not making it to any of these places yet this year. Stay tuned for more adventures...
- Sept 2001 - Miami, FL
- Nov 2001 - Bahamas
- May 2002 - Italy (Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Capri, and Pompeii)
- January 2003 - Carnival Cruise in the Carribbean (St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and Bahamas again)
- June 2003 - San Francisco, CA
- September 2003 - Spain (Barcelona, San Sebastian, Madrid, & Ibiza)
- June 2004 - Puerto, Plata, Dominican Republic
- October 2004 - France (Paris and Nice) and London
- January 2005 - Los Angeles, CA
- April 2005 - Cancun, Mexico
- October 2005 - Grand Canyon and Las Vegas
- November 2005 - Thailand
- June 2006 - Turks & Caicos
- September 2006 - Paris again
- December 2006 - Hawaii (Maui & Kauai) and Las Vegas
- June 2007 - Yellowstone National Park
- July 2007 - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
- December 2007 - St. Lucia
- February 2008 - Orange County, CA
- December 2008 - Disney World, Florida
- February 2009 - Fiji (Mana Island)
- March 2009 - New Zealand (North & South Island)
- April 2009 - Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef, & Sydney, Australia
- May 2009 - Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Suzhou, Shanghai, China & Hong Kong
- July 2009 - Bar Harbor, Maine
- September 2009 - Vancouver, Canada
- January 2010 - Atlanta, Georgia
- May 2010 - Aruba
- July 2010 - Montreal, Canada
- July 2010 - Miami, FL
- September 2010 - Chicago, IL
- December 2010 - Dallas. TX
- February 2011 - New Orleans, Louisiana
- June 2011 - Iceland (Reykjavik and the Westfjords)
- March 2012 - Central Europe (Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, and Budapest)
- May 2012 - Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- June 2012 - Alaska (Cruise to Juneau, Skagway, Anchorage, and Denali National Park)
- December 2012 - Disney World, Orlando, FL
- March 2013 - Fort Lauderdale, FL
- April 2013 - Lisbon, Cascais, and Porto, Portugal
- November 2013 - Cancun, Mexico
- December 2013 - Maui, Big Island, and Oahu, Hawaii
- May 2014 - Munich & Frankfurt, Germany; Zurich & Lucerne, Switzerland; Lake Como, Italy
- July 2014 - Quebec, Canada
- September 2014 - Cayman Islands
- November 2014 - Iguazu Falls, Bariloche, and Buenos Aires, Argentina
- April 2015 - Turks and Caicos
- May 2015 - Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, and Tokyo, Japan
- September 2015 - Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- January 2016 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- February 2016 - Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
- March 2016 - Cartagena, Colombia
- April 2016 - Orlando, FL
- May 2016 - Copenhagen, Denmark
- June 2016 - Nova Scotia (Cape Breton and Halifax area)
- September 2016 -Greece (Athens, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini)
- January 2017 - Los Angeles, CA